Counting Down the 13 Most Famous UFO Encounters of All Time
Counting Down the 13 Most Famous UFO Encounters of All Time

With the 70th anniversary of the Roswell UFO Incident just around the corner, we’ll be bringing you a regular series of content dedicated to celebrating tales of conspiracy and fringe science. So, put on your tinfoil hats and join us as we enter….THE COMET ARCHIVES.

It’s no secret that the Roswell crash is the stuff of legend when it comes to UFO encounters, but does it secure the title of ‘The Most Famous UFO Event of All Time’? Join us as we look back at some of the weirdest, most inexplicable UFO events ever to be documented.


13. Kecksburg Crash


On December 9, 1965, thousands of people in the midwestern United States and Canada reported seeing a giant fireball streak across the sky. But it was the witnesses in the small town of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania who had a real story to tell. They claimed a large, bell-shaped metallic object with strange hieroglyphics written on its side had crashed there, and that the army swiftly came and took it away — later claiming they had found nothing in the area. 40 years later, NASA made the claim that the object was a Russian satellite, but not everyone believes the official story, especially since records of Russian satellite activity at the time don’t line up with the crash.


12. Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter


In 1955, the Sutton family of rural Kentucky saw a light streak across the sky above their house. They then claimed to be attacked by roughly a dozen “goblins” who were around 3 feet tall with large eyes. They said the creatures floated down from the trees, and when they fired their rifles at them, the bullets made a metallic sound and caused no harm. After holding the creatures at bay for four hours, some of the family members drove into town to get the police for help. When they returned, the creatures were gone. Skeptics think the family was just seeing owls.


11. Gulf Breeze UFO Incident

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For several weeks beginning in late 1987, a man named Ed Walters claimed to have had numerous sightings of UFOs outside his Gulf Breeze, Florida home. He claimed the ships had contacted him, physically lifted him off the ground with a beam of light, and he even claimed to have seen an alien being resembling the well-known Greys of abduction lore. But unlike most abduction cases, Walters took loads of photos to back up his claims — photos which continue to be a source of debate.


10. The Flatwoods Monster

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On the night of September 12, 1952, in the town of Flatwoods, West Virginia, there occurred one of the strangest close encounters of the third kind ever reported. After seeing a UFO land at a nearby farm, Kathleen May, her sons, and a few neighborhood children went to investigate. They encountered a pulsating red craft, a pungent mist that stung their eyes, and a hissing, ten-foot tall creature with a head like a spade and glowing red eyes. The crew fled and contacted police, who arrived at the scene to find no evidence outside the strange odor. Later, all of the witnesses became very ill, which they had attributed to the mist. Skeptics, once again, claim the witnesses only saw an owl.


9. Whitley Strieber’s Communion

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In an example of life imitating art, horror novelist Whitley Strieber claimed he was abducted from his upstate New York cabin by “visitors” on December 26, 1985. He later, under hypnosis, recalled many encounters with these “visitors” (he declines to call them aliens as he doesn’t claim to know their origin), some of whom were the typical greys, while others he described as insectoids and blue doctors. He wrote of his experiences in the non-fiction book Communion, which was made into a movie starring Christopher Walken.


8. Foo Fighters

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Not a single encounter, but rather the name U.S. pilots used to refer to the strange glowing orbs they saw in the skies during World War II; often following their planes. At the time, the military thought they may be a secret German weapon, while later explanations look to natural electrical phenomena.


7. Rendlesham Forest Incident

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In what is possibly the most famous UFO sighting to occur outside the United States, a number of witnesses claimed to have seen mysterious lights in the sky over Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk, England in December, 1980. What makes the case unique — and what gives it credibility — is that a number of the witnesses were members of the U.S. Air Force who were stationed at a nearby base. Deputy base commander Lieutenant Colonel Charles I. Halt was the most prominent witness, and he issued a notarized affidavit in 2010 where he stated that he believed what he saw was extraterrestrial in origin.


6. Battle of Los Angeles

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Late in the evening of February 24, 1942, just months after the U.S. entered World War II, something flew into Los Angeles airspace. This triggered a massive response by the army, who fired over 1,400 shells into the sky for an hour, yet they never were able to shoot whatever it was out of the sky. The event was later labeled a false alarm triggered by a weather balloon and exacerbated by hysteria, but an infamous photo seems to show a craft lit up by spotlights.


5. Phoenix Lights


Perhaps the most famous encounter within the past two decades took place over Arizona on the night of March 13, 1997. Thousands of witnesses all over the state, including the governor at the time, reported seeing a massive V-shaped object flying slowly and silently overhead. The object — which had changing lights, was a mile across in size, and was seen to block out the stars as it passed — made its way southeast, covering nearly the entire state before it disappeared.


4. Allagash Abductions


During a camping trip deep in the wilderness of Allagash, Maine on August 20, 1976, four Massachusetts men — Jim Weiner, Jack Weiner, Charles Foltz, and Charles Rak — saw a UFO while fishing. After apparently communicating with the craft using their flashlight, the next thing they knew they were back on shore. Years later, the men began to have dreams about being examined by Grey aliens, and under regressive hypnosis they recalled being abducted by aliens on the night they saw the UFO.


3. Travis Walton


While working in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona on November 5, 1975, logger Travis Walton disappeared after seeing a UFO. He wouldn’t be seen again for five days. The men who were with him when he disappeared were originally suspected of murdering him, yet they all passed polygraph tests having to do with their UFO story. When Walton reappeared, malnourished and dazed, he claimed to have been abducted by alien beings who experimented on him. His story was later immortalized in the terrifying film Fire in the Sky.


2. Betty and Barney Hill

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The first widely-reported abduction case, this one became the gold standard for all the alien abduction tropes you know. A UFO that interferes with a car, missing time, amnesia, and strange dreams of Greys conducting a physical examination that includes reproductive experiments and, yes, anal probing — the case today reads like a checklist for alien abductions. But it’s what couple Betty and Barney Hill claim happened to them on September 19, 1961 while out for a drive in rural New Hampshire, and the stories the pair revealed under hypnosis were remarkably similar. Betty even drew a star map during one session that she said she saw on board the spacecraft, which some believe shows the aliens’ home world as being in the Zeta Reticuli system… 39 light years from Earth.


1. Roswell

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The granddaddy of them all, what’s undisputed is that something crashed in the desert near Roswell in 1947. Many believe it was a flying saucer from another world containing aliens, which was then sent to be stored at Area 51 in Nevada as the result of a massive government cover-up. The U.S. Air Force for decades claimed it was a weather balloon, but in the ’90s began saying it was actually a high altitude balloon meant to monitor Soviet nuclear weapons testing. Regardless of what you believe, there’s no doubt that the Roswell incident continues to be the most famous UFO story in the world.


To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Roswell Incident, we’re dedicating this July 4th to some out-of-this-world programming! Our ‘Invasion: Alien Attack Movie Marathon’ kicks off at 10am/9C and runs all day, so be sure and tune in to get your alien fix!


Title image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.